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USDA official hopes trade war does not last years

Photo Courtesy of Rose Ayers

A United States trade official recently provided an update on global trade. Today, he outlines negotiations with China.

AUDIO: Ted McKinney, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney recently participated in a trade roundtable, hosted by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. McKinney, speaking to press after, provided a brief update on trade. He spoke to negotiations with China. McKinney believes “we’re in this with China for a little while longer.”

“We have had successful discussions. They know what our issues are in agriculture,” McKinney said. “At the core, we’re waiting for China to tell us that they’re going to quit stealing our stuff – not just in Ag, but all sectors – and stop forcing companies into technology transfer. Those are the big hump, collectively. There’s some other things, and we’ve made it very clear.”

McKinney does not know how long it will take to wrap up trade talks with China. He says, “It won’t be days, and it won’t be weeks” and hopes will not take years. McKinney remains optimistic about current negotiations, despite not having a set timeline.

“You need to know that we, at the USDA, have a very good relationship with our counterparts in China. It’s a warm relationship. We just have to work through some things associated with the Communist Party, and I think we can get back to the table immediately,” McKinney said.

McKinney says the United States will continue to work to resolve issues impacting U.S. farmers and ranchers, as well as those impacted upstream and downstream. However, McKinney says as soon as China can admit to and correct unfair trade practices, things can return to a sense of normalcy. 

“I’m hopeful that there’s not been much, if any damage,” McKinney said. “The reason I say that is because we know how much China needs our economy for so many things, just as they know how much they need our products. If we can settle this more quickly than not, I think we can get back to a sense of normalcy. Will there be changes? I have little doubt of that. But I’m not ready to say that we’re on the losing end of this proposition. I think we have much more to gain by hanging in there and securing commitments.”